AUGUSTA, ME (December 19, 2013) — Attorney General Janet T. Mills has announced that her Office has filed suit against Festiva Hospitality Group and its associated businesses and principals for unfair and deceptive practices in connection with Festiva’s points-based “vacation club.”
The ten-count complaint, filed in Kennebec Superior Court, alleges that Festiva sold Maine consumers “points” for membership in a vacation club at high pressure sales presentations held at the Rangeley Lake Resort and at its sales office on Riverside Drive in Portland. Festiva told consumers that they could use points to take vacations anytime at various Festiva resorts around the country, including those in Florida, the Carolinas, Missouri, and at Rangeley Lake. However, many consumers discovered after they signed a 40-year contract with Festiva that membership in its vacation club is not what they were told it would be.
A number of consumers have complained to the Attorney General’s Office that it is impossible to book a vacation because of the lack of accommodations at Festiva’s resorts, particularly at peak times and locations. People who bought these “points” thought they could save them to use for a vacation in another year but later found out that Festiva would not allow them to carry over points. They were also surprised to receive bills for higher and higher maintenance fees and special assessments. Consumers who tried to cancel their memberships were told they had signed a 40-year contract obligating them to pay fees and assessments, even if the purchaser is unable to schedule a vacation at a Festiva resort.
“Festiva pressures Maine consumers into buying an expensive but basically worthless product using misleading tactics,” says Attorney General Mills. “Festiva tells them membership in its vacation club is a convenient and inexpensive way to vacation, but the reality is exactly the opposite. Consumers end up paying too much money for too long a time for a something that never materializes. Festiva promised dream vacations but delivered deception.”
The complaint asks the court to order civil penalties, reimbursement to consumers and an injunction against these deceptive practices.
Maine Assistant Attorneys General Linda Conti and Carolyn Silsby are pursuing the claims against Festiva for the State of Maine. Other states also taking action against Festiva include Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi.
A copy of the Attorney General’s complaint is on the web site at www.maine.gov/ag.
Consumers who have questions about Festiva or other consumer protection matters can contact the Attorney General’s Office’s Consumer Protection Division at [email protected] or by calling 1-800-436-2131 or 207-626-8849.
PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: Office of the Maine Attorney General